New to Autism

A new diagnosis of Autism can be emotionally challenging for both the individual and the family. The Autism Society of Mahoning Valley is here to help navigate that diagnosis and connect you to the resources and support you need. An Autism diagnosis can help qualify an individual for community and educational services. For toddlers and preschool-aged children with a new diagnosis, they will be eligible for early intervention/ preschool services and for direct therapy and behavioral support based on the child’s needs and the family’s preferences. For school-aged children, they may qualify for community services with a medical diagnosis and for school-based services with an educational diagnosis of Autism.

For adolescents and adults who are receiving a new Autism diagnosis, this can be a challenging time. Support services are available to support communication, emotional, mental health, and vocational needs, but the individual with Autism will need to choose which therapies and support they find useful. It can be challenging to choose options if you don’t know how the options work and what the support can do to help. Support groups can be helpful to learn from other adults who are experiencing similar situations. We help make connections with providers and resources in the community.



Autism is a lifelong condition, and the available, necessary support and treatment changes as Autistic individuals move through major life phases. With many more people being diagnosed with Autism, appropriate services and support are even more pressing. Quality of life for individuals with Autism and their families depends not only on the foundation provided in childhood, but also on ongoing support that is specific to their educational, medical, social, recreational, family, and employment needs. The Autism Society supports people with Autism and their families through three critical stages of life by connecting them to the resources they need, when they need it.



Local state and county programs provide developmental and other supportive services to children with developmental disabilities from birth up to age three.  In Ohio, this federally mandated early intervention program is called Help Me Grow.  Learn more about Help Me Grow …



Once a child reaches the age of 3, your local school district will assist in the transition to the public school-based Early Childhood Program.  If a child has not participated in a “Birth to 3” program or is over the age of 3 families should contact their local or county special education program to enroll their child in the local school-based program.  Some parents prefer to homeschool their young children with autism until they feel they are ready for a group setting.  Some choose to explore alternative schools utilizing the Autism Scholarship Program.  Read more about the Autism Scholarship Program and find Autism Scholarship Providers in your area.



All public schools must provide services for children with ASD from ages 3 through 21.  The public school must evaluate your child for a suspected disability, develop an appropriate educational plan and provide related services as indicated by the evaluation.  The role of the evaluation is to identify if an educational disability exists, not to make a medical diagnosis.  The educational evaluation team must include a professional with knowledge and experience in the area of autism.  A child must have an educational evaluation to receive services in public schools.  



The term “transition” refers to one of the more critical times when individuals with ASD plan to leave the security of services through the public school system to adult services.  The transition from high school to continuing study or employment can be made easier through transition planning, which must be included in the child’s IEP, beginning at age 14.  With good transition planning, a student with ASD can have an opportunity to experience higher education, employment, and independent living.  Parents, school officials, and agency personnel work together to make the transition as smooth as possible for the student.